Leona Maguire trails by one in Northern Ireland despite hitting opening tee shot OB; Scotland's Ewen Ferguson paces men's division after course-record 61

Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

First tee shot out of bounds? No problem.

Tournament favorite Leona Maguire opened with a bogey on the par-5 first hole at Galgorm Castle and still managed to finish one shot off the lead after carding a 5-under 68 at the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland.

Maguire, who has twin sister Lisa on the bag, followed that bogey with an eagle on the par-5 third hole and finished off her round with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 16-18.

“Didn’t hit enough fairways,” said Maguire, who hit seven total. “Didn’t really feel comfortable over a lot of the tee shots. This course doesn’t suit my eye very well, so kind of nice to have a change of scenery.”

The field played both Galgorm Castle and Massereene Golf Club, with men and women alternating tee times. The ISPS Handa World is a co-sanctioned event between the LPGA, LET and DP World Tour. There are two fields of 132 men and 132 women who will compete over two separate 72-hole stroke play events for a total of $3 million, split evenly.

Maguire, the first Irishwoman to win on the LPGA, finds herself one back of American Amanda Doherty and tied with Georgia Hall, Lee-Anne Pace and Lauren Coughlin.

Galgorm, Northern Ireland – AUGUST 10: Leona Maguire of Ireland with caddie and sister Lisa Maguire prior to the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics at Galgorm Castle and Massereene Golf Clubs on August 10, 2022 in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson posted a 9-under 61 at Galgorm Castle in the men’s division on the strength of two eagles. Ferguson leads by four over a trio that includes LIV player Richard Bland at 5 under.

“Played the pro-am with Niall (Horan) and me and Robbie Keane yesterday and I kept hitting a lot of bunkers,” Ferguson said. “They were saying, you love the bunkers. See you tomorrow. Just try and stay out of them.

“Today was just nice to avoid them all, which was good. Obviously, a 61, so course record is pretty nice.”

At last week’s AIG Women’s British Open, Maguire carded Sunday’s best round, a bogey-free 64, to post a career-best fourth-place finish in a major.

“If I had the putted today like I putted on Sunday,” she said, “would be a bit of a different story. If I can take the ball striking from last week and add it to the putting today, I would be very happy.”

Hall enjoyed an eagle-birdie-birdie stretch on Nos. 3-5 on Galgorm and dropped only one shot in her opening 68.

“I felt I played fairly average, to be honest,” she said, “because there are a lot of chances out there today.”

Maja Stark, the Race to Costa del Sol leader, rebounded from a tough 79 on Sunday at the AIG Women’s British Open to shoot 69 at the par-72 Massereene Golf Club.

“I feel like I was just so drained after that last round because I feel like I really tried to play well the whole round, but then nothing seemed to work, said Stark of Sunday at Muirfield. “I just collapsed when I got in.

“So I’ve been nice to myself and taking some time off. Not time off; obviously been playing the practice rounds and the pro-am. But then not practicing as much as I usually do, because I can feel that I’ve been easily annoyed and stuff like that the last week.”

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